In October 2008, upgraded federal school bus seating requirements were issued. This is the biggest change in FMVSS 222 since it first went into effect in 1977. The main innovations, first suggested to Congress in 2002 and officially proposed a year ago, are a requirement for lap-shoulder belts in the smallest school buses, higher seatbacks for all school buses, and a test standard for bus seats made with built-in lap-shoulder belts. The seat belt part of the rule will become effective for new buses in 2011 for small buses and for any large buses that are ordered with seat belts.
The taller seatbacks will be required in new buses purchased as of October 2009. They will be 24” instead of 20” above the seating reference point (a point which approximates the position of an occupant’s hip) for better compartmentalization.
The development of a test standard for bus seats with integrated lap-shoulder belts has been one key to making this rule possible. The seats must function to support the force from a seat-belted occupant and also provide the compartmentalization needed for an unrestrained occupant seated behind that seat. Such seats have already been developed by SafeGuard and by C.E. White, but a minimum performance standard is essential for public confidence in the product.
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